‘House’ Star Hugh Laurie Studied These Subjects at Cambridge University

Plenty of celebrities have portrayed medical personnel at some point in their careers. Not many have done it better than actor Hugh Laurie. For years, he played Gregory House, the doctor everyone loved to hate. The cocky yet brilliant physician appeared on the Fox television series House for eight seasons from 2004 to 2012.

The narcissistic fictional doctor had a self-destructive personality that provoked him to perform medical experiments on himself in the name of science. Highly educated, Dr. House was part of the pre-med program at Johns Hopkins University, where he attained a perfect score on his MCAT. After being accused of academic misconduct, he was denied a prestigious internship and wound up finishing his medical training at the University of Michigan.

Of course, this is all fabricated and just a part of the intricate storyline developed by writers to explain the character’s personality traits. In real life, the acclaimed actor studied at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Suffice it to say, Laurie did not study medicine — or performing arts, for that matter.

Hugh Laurie attended Cambridge University

The 62-year-old actor attended Cambridge in 1978, where he was part of the rowing team. An avid athlete, Laurie trained daily for a chance at making the Olympic team but was disqualified after coming down with mononucleosis.

While at school, Laurie met fellow Thespian Emma Thompson. She introduced him to Stephen Fry, who later became his comedic sidekick. They were all part of the famous amateur theatrical club, The Cambridge Footlights. In 1981, Laurie’s group won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, creating the dynamic duo of Fry and Laurie. 

Famous British actors such as Sir Ian McKellen, David Attenborough, and John Cleese also graced the hallowed halls of the esteemed university. The world-renowned student comedy troupe “first aired the talents of some of the foremost British comedians and actors.”

What did he study in college?

Hugh Laurie is honored with star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 25, 2016 in Hollywood, California.
Hugh Laurie | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Laurie, although interested in performing, was not a theater major. According to Best Life, the House actor studied anthropology and archaeology while at Cambridge.

Cambridgeshire Live reported Laurie specialized in social anthropology, “graduating with third-class honors.” They claim he was “following in his father’s footsteps” by becoming part of the rowing team. Laurie’s father won an Olympic gold medal for rowing in 1948.

His father was also a physician for more than three decades. The Golden Globe winner once told BBC America that not pursuing a career in medicine is still a “source of great guilt.” He admitted, “I would have liked to have become a doctor myself, and I still have doctor fantasies.”

The Veep actor explained, “My father had high hopes for me following him into medicine. I wanted to and was going to choose the right subjects at school, but in the end, I copped out.” He said, “Medicine is awfully hard work, and you have to be rather clever to pass the exams.”

Laurie never made it to medical school

In an interview with The Associated Press, Laurie revealed, “I would have to say that House is one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done. I never felt, and I certainly don’t think the writers ever felt, that they’d run out of things to do with that character. Well, until the point when they did, and when they did, they stopped. I did that for longer than it would have taken me to actually become a real doctor, which is rather galling to contemplate.”

The Holmes & Watson actor most recently appeared in the 2020 four-part PBS Masterpiece miniseries, Roadkill. The political thriller focuses on the private and very public life of Peter Laurence, played by Laurie.

The character is described by Brights Hub as “a man who never falters, never looks back, a shark who doesn’t stop swimming past the corpses of those he has bitten lest he drown.”

It sounds like House and Laurence have a lot in common. Entertaining Movie was quick to note, “There aren’t many actors who can pull off the charming asshole quite like Laurie can.”

RELATED: ‘House, M.D.’ Fan Theory: House Didn’t Actually Survive the Series Finale